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The Importance of Niacin for Ducks and Chickens

The Importance of Niacin for Ducks and Chickens

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is an essential vitamin that helps the digestive system and nervous system function properly. It also helps the body turn protein, fat, and carbs into energy. This essential nutrient plays a vital role in the development of ducks and chickens.

Niacin is essential for the health, growth, and proper bone development of young ducklings and chicks. Without enough Niacin, ducks and chickens can develop a deficiency, which can lead to leg deformities and other health issues.

Understanding Niacin Deficiency in Ducks & Chickens

Both ducks and chickens need Niacin in their diet, but waterfowl have a higher Niacin requirement than chickens. In fact, ducks require almost twice the amount of Niacin in their diets than chickens do. 

According to Poultry DVM, this increased requirement is related to their inability to synthesize Niacin from tryptophan (an essential amino acid). Newly hatched ducklings are at an increased risk of Niacin deficiency because of their rapid growth and development.

Although chick starter feed is often labeled for all types of poultry, it’s important to note that chicken feeds don’t contain enough Niacin for ducks. So if you are giving your ducks a feed that is labeled for chickens, you will need to supplement with Niacin to avoid deficiency and related problems. 

It’s ideal to feed ducks a waterfowl food; however, many feed stores don’t carry waterfowl-specific feed. You can give chicken feed to your ducks, as long as it is unmedicated and you supplement with Niacin.

Signs of Niacin Deficiency

One common symptom of Niacin deficiency in ducks is a failure to thrive. Other signs include lack of weight gain, bowing of legs, enlarged hock joints, weakness, pigeon-toed stance, and inability to walk.

Other birds can develop Niacin deficiency, too. Research has known that Niacin deficiency can result in stunted growth in chicks, as well as weight loss and reduced egg production and hatchability in laying hens. That’s why it’s important to start your ducklings and chicks on a Niacin supplement.

Studies have also shown that supplementing with Niacin can help prevent dermatitis and leg deformities in chicks. Higher Niacin levels are recommended when disease, stress, and higher production rates are expected.

Sources of Niacin

There are a variety of different sources of Niacin that you can feed your ducks or chickens. Here are a few of plant-based sources of niacin:

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Peanuts

It’s important to feed both chickens and ducks according to their appropriate stage of growth. An easy and effective way to ensure ducks and chickens are receiving enough Niacin is to supplement with brewer’s yeast, which is naturally high in Niacin. Supplementing with brewer’s yeast can help prevent Niacin deficiency in ducks, plus it’s safe and beneficial for chickens and other poultry, too!

What Is Brewer’s Yeast?

Brewer’s yeast is made from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is a one-celled fungus that is used in the production of beer and bread. It is often used as a nutritional supplement because of the beneficial nutrients that it contains.

Brewer’s yeast is a rich source of B vitamins and antioxidants, plus it is high in chromium, potassium, selenium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. These minerals are essential for a variety of functions within the body and overall good health. It is also considered a probiotic and can help aid digestion in humans.

Brewer’s yeast also offers many potential benefits to dogs and horses, such as improving the skin and coat, helping reduce anxiety and stress, and aiding with flea and tick control. The

Benefits of Brewer’s Yeast for Ducks & Chickens

There are numerous benefits of brewer’s yeast for ducks and chickens. The Niacin in brewer’s yeast is essential for proper bone growth and development. Plus, it supports the immune system, aids in digestion, supports the respiratory system, and can even help reduce manure odor.

Thomas Labs® understands that healthy chickens and ducks require a balanced diet with lots of protein and nutrients. Using a dietary supplement like Thomas Pet’s Brewer’s Yeast with Garlic can help keep your chickens and ducks happy and healthy!

Adding this brewer’s yeast powder to daily feed can have many benefits for chickens and ducks. It supports their overall immune systems, promotes healthy digestion, and contains an array of beneficial ingredients, including Niacin. The inclusion of garlic in this supplement is beneficial for its antioxidant and immune-supporting effects.

Help ensure your backyard flock is as healthy as possible by supplementing with brewer’s yeast!


The materials and information provided on this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your veterinarian or other pet healthcare professional. Consult your own veterinarian if you have medical questions concerning diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medical attention.

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